Dangerous substances can put peoples’ safety at risk from fire, explosion and corrosion of metal. DSEAR puts duties on employers and the self-employed to protect people from these risks to their safety in the workplace and to members of the public who may be put at risk by work activity. 

Dangerous substances are any substances used or present at work that could, if not properly controlled, cause harm to people as a result of a fire or explosion or corrosion of metal. They can be found in nearly all workplaces and include such things as solvents, paints, varnishes, flammable gases such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), dusts from machining and sanding operations, dusts from foodstuffs, pressurised gases and substances corrosive to metal. 

Under DSEAR employers must find out what dangerous substances are in their workplace, what the risks are and put control measures in place to either remove or control the risks. This can be done by carrying out a risk assessment and categorising each potentially flammable atmosphere and where necessary, removing or reducing potential sources of ignition. Such sources are often electrical equipment that has not been designed for use in flammable atmospheres. 

It is often necessary to have electrical services and systems in environments with dangerous substances. These systems need to be installed, maintained and tested with DSEAR in mind by an appropriately qualified electrician.

The HSE can imposed significant fines for failing to comply with the regulations. In 2020 a furniture retailer was fined nearly £400,000 pounds for breaches of DSEAR and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.

The council launched an investigation after a complaint from a member of staff. Investigators discovered that the warehouse was being used to prepare sheets of room dividers. However, this was not a registered warehouse activity, and the glues being used and a lack of ventilation meant that the sheets were prepared in a highly explosive environment. Workers were also given faulty face masks, exposing them to MDF wood dust. The conditions were so bad that council officers served an immediate prohibition notice stopping the activity.

The company had failed to assess the risks to employees from areas where dangerous substances were used, namely solvent thinners, solvent lacquers, wood dust and combustibles. It also failed to classify areas where an explosive atmosphere might build up.

We can risk assess your workplace to ensure that it is compliant with DSEAR. Please contact us on 07881 953526 if you require such as assessment.